Elza Soares


July 6, 2022

Elza Soares, stage name of Elza Gomes da Conceição (Rio de Janeiro, June 23, 1930 – Rio de Janeiro, January 20, 2022), was a Brazilian singer, songwriter and samba-plot leader, who flirted with several musical genres such as samba, jazz, samba-jazz, sambalanço, bossa nova, mpb, soul, rock and electronic music. Over a little more than 60 years of career, she had countless songs at the top of the hit lists in Brazil; some of the biggest hits include: "Se Acaso Você Chegasse" (1960), "Boato" (1961), "Cadeira Vazia" (1961), "Só Danço Samba" (1963), "Mulata Assanhada" (1965) and "Aquarela Brazilian" (1974). In 1999, she was elected by BBC Radio London as the Brazilian singer of the millennium. The choice originated from the British radio project The Millennium Concerts, created to celebrate the arrival of the year 2000. In addition, Soares appears in the 16th position of the list of the 100 greatest voices of Brazilian music prepared by Rolling Stone Brasil magazine.


She was born into a very humble family, made up of ten brothers, in the Moça Bonita favela, currently Vila Vintém, in the Padre Miguel neighborhood, and when she was still young she moved to a tenement in the Água Santa neighborhood, where she was raised. , lived playing in the street, flying kites, wooden tops, even fighting with the boys. It was a poor but happy life for a child, despite having to help his mother with the housework, carrying cans of water on his head.


First works

Cultivating the dream of singing since childhood, she has been composing her first songs since then. At 21, she had just been widowed, and had four children to raise, having already lost two newborn children to malnutrition a few years earlier, and a daughter had been kidnapped a year earlier. At this time, she was working as a cleaning lady to support them, and still needed to buy medicine for her two-year-old son, who had pneumonia. Fearing the death of another child, alone and without expectation of a better life, seeing her artistic dream increasingly far away and inaccessible, she decided to fight for her son and not give up. Elza, confident in her talent for singing, due to the praise she received from relatives and friends, signed up for the musical contest of the radio program Calouros em Desfile, in mid-1953, which was presented by composer Ary Barroso. For the presentation, she wore her mother's dress, approximately twenty kilos fatter, adjusted with several diaper pins, doing a pigtails hairstyle in her hair. . Ary tried to make fun of Elza by asking her, "What planet did you come from, my daughter?" And Elza replied: "From the same planet as you, Mr. Ary. From the hungry planet." Afterwards, Elza sang "Lama", by Paulo Marques and Aylce Chaves, and won the show's top score. Ary then announced that, at that exact moment, a star had just been born. in season. At first she was not taken seriously, because of her very humble way of speaking and dressing. Despite this moment of mockery on the part of the presenter, Elza was not shaken and, when singing, she showed all her potential. She earned a little money for the participation, and used it to buy her son's medicine, who was fine. His successful participation in Ary Barroso's program did not initially translate into job opportunities. Until one day her brother Ino challenged her to audition for her teacher's orchestra. With a rendition of "I'm sorry," she won a spot in the ensemble. Elza started to accompany the group in presentations at parties, dances, weddings and social events in general. Nor